Tissamaharama Viharaya – Hambantota District
Tissamaharama Viharaya located on the Tissa Lake is considered to be the most important viharaya among the Viharayas in Ruhuna According to the Mahavansa the temple was built by the King Kavanthissa.
According to inscription in Kirinda considered to be made by Mihindu Apa IV, the left tooth of Buddha is enshrined in this temple. It is mentioned in Dhatu Wansa that Buddha visited Tissamaharamaya during his 3rd visit to Sri lanka. It is said that king Dutugemunu ( 161-137BC) participated in religious activities in this temple when he started his journey for the battle to unite the country.
This temple was the main religious and cultural center in the historic Ruhuna.
The vihara is situated between Debaraweva and Thissamaharama town on the Thissa road. This vehera is believed to have been built by King Mahanaga, who build up his own kingdom in Ruhuna. The queen of Mahanaga deleverd a son in this place while king Mahanaga escaped Ruhuna due to displeasure with the queen of Devanam piyathissa. It is said that the son was named Yatala Thissa and the vehera was built on the grounds to commemorate the birth of his son and it became public as Yatala Viharaya.
This temple is an age – old place of worship for Buddhists. The Viharaya has been named Chiththala pabbatha in the Mahavansa. There is a gravel road on the left running through a forest. When you go a short distance past Yodakandiya on Kirinda road from Tishsamaharama town. When you proceed sixteen miles (25.7 Km) on this road you will meet the Situlpawwa. In ancient times, Situlapawwa was an important place for monks living in the forest. The bhikkus living here are well known for knowledge and leading a virtons life.
There are two rocks called big Sithulpawwa and small Sithulpawwa in this place of worship. Sithulpawwa tank is situated around these rocks. A rock cave temple is on big Sithlpawwa rock which is 400 feet high. Sithulpawwa chaitya can be seen on the top of the rock. This temple is believed to have been built by king Kavanthissa.
Mulkirigala Rajamaha Viharaya
This temple is an age – old place of worship in Ruhuna, situated on a top of rock called Mulkirigala. Among the temples in Ruhuna, this temple is second only to Thissamaharama Raja Maha Viharaya in terms of importance. Mulkirigala rock temple can be reached coming along Beliatta - Weeraketiya main road and turning at Mulkirigala junction. The temple is situated one mile (1.6Km) from the Mulkirigala junction.
Several historians including Mr. C.W. Nikulus has concluded that the temple was built by king Kavanthissa. The ancientness of the temple is proved by the ancient inscriptions.
Prescoes shrine rooms, Dagabas and carved work in this temple belongs to Mahanuwara era or the era thereafter. It is said that cobras came into being in ancient time jump on to this rock from toll tree and creeped into various directions and the plan of the temple was formed in accordance with the paths on which those cobras creeped. This temple has become famous among foreign visitors due to art creations.
This temple is located on Tissa Kirinda main road 7 miles from Tissamaharama town. In the past this temple was called Meda Viharaya (Central Viharaya). It was of great importance in the history of Rununa. When raging sea water threatened Sri Lanka, King Kelanithissa scarified his daughter princess Viharamahadevi to the sea. It is said that the Princess reached this place on the beach of the east south of Sri Lanka. The king Kavanthissa built a temple on Viharamahadevi’s landing place to commemorate her landing on this place.
A Boo tree, shrine room and an image worshiping to Vihara Maha Deviya can be seen in this temple which has been built on a top of a rock in Kirinda beach.
Gota Pabbatha Viharaya is located on rocky outcrop near the mouth of the Walawe River. The road to this place is between the 142 and 143 mile posts on Tangalle- Hambantota main road.
The temple called Gota pabbatha in ancient times is now known as Godawaya Viharaya. This temple is namd as godawaya vehera in an inscription made in 6th century A.D. This temple is said to have been built by King Gajabahu I (114-136 BC). An inscription which states that tax collected from port called Godapawatha was given for maintenance of the temple. The inscription was caused to be done by King Gamini Abhaya. Historians consider that the king Gamini Abhaya was king Gajabahu I.
Rambha Viharaya in Ruhuna is located on the bank of the Walawe Ganga in the village of Udarota on the Nonagama – Ratnapura road. It is about 8 miles (12.8Km) from Amblantota. It is believed that the Viharaya was built by King Vijayabahu I. King Vijayabahu I conducted his war against the Cholas from Ramba viharaya.
The Ramba viharaya had become the most important religious and academic center of Ruhuna between the 10th and 12th centuries.
Siththamgallena Rajamaha Viharaya
The temple is situated in the Grama Niladhari division of Warapitiya on the slope side of the Rammal Kanda mountain range which separates the Hambantota and Matara districts. The place of worship is located on Warapitiya Mawarala road to the left from the Warapitiya junction.
Folk lore reveals that King Walagamba built the temple during the time he hide himself in the Rammale rocks after Tamils defeated him.
The temple consisting of upper viharaya and lower viharaya has two eighteen cubit reclning statues and various paintings depicting various events of the life of Buddha.
This tower is situated near District Secretariat Hambantota on Hambantota road. This was a design made in Dutch era. Salt was transported from Hambanota to Maha Nuwara. The Dutch who thought to control the upcountry king by limiting the supply of salt, employed army here. The tower situated on the top of a rock in Hambantota is important as an invasive and security center.
District Engineer’s office was established here in 1926. This tower was repaired by General Coper and named Martello tower. This is a historical building which reflects the western architecture. The tower is 50 feet high.
Great Basses and Little Basses
Two well-known places for international voyage are situated in the south east cost of Sri Lnaka. Two lighthouses were built on these rocks where several ships were damaged while passing these rocks. These rocks were dangerous for passing ships. At present two rocks are called Great Basses and Little Basses.
Some scholars believe that the oldest Kingdome in the history of Sri Lanka Ravana’s Lankapura was located on these rocks. Several articles and books written on these places have become famous all over the world.
Great basses and Little basses are located 15.5 km and 47.5 km off Kirinda. Geologists express opinion that these are formed by sand and stones streached from land and coral reefs appears because of the collection of coral on these sand and stones.
Usangoda – Hambantota District
Usangoda area in Divisional Secretary’s division in Ambalantota is a significant place among other areas with natural environment on coastal line in the District of Hambantota, Southern province.
Usangoda is a place of beauty and shows features in dry zone forests. Folk lore reveals King Ravanas Kingdome was situated in this area and his “Dandumonara” was landed here.
The Matara Bodhiya opposite the Uyanwatta stadium at the heart of Matara town belongs to the same family as Jaya Srimaha bodhiya according to the botanists. The history of Matara reveals that the area where the Matara Bodhiya is situated was called “hathbodi watta” in the past. It is mentioned in a verse in Parakumba Siritha that king Kumaradasa died for poet Kalidas.
Accordingly history reveals that Sinhalese king Kumaradasa jumped into the burning pyre died for his friend and that the queen of king Kumaradasa also jumped into the pyre and died.
Folk lore reveals that 7 Bo Trees including the Matara Bodhiya were planted to commemorate the incident. Accordingly Matara Bodhiya becomes a cultural and religious center for the Sinhala Buddhist people from the past.
Star Fort Matara
The star fort was built by the Dutch. It was called redoute Vaneck in the past. The star fort reveals the Dutch’s architectural abilities and their extraordinary ability to build forts and their organizational skills.
The star fort was constructed as a tactic to protect from the outside the Matara fort build by the Dutch. This fort takes a form of star. Therefore it is called Star Fort.
The British took the control of the star fort with the invasion by them in 1876. They used it for their civil administration activities during the British period. In 1974 it was handed over to the Archaeological Department. Thereafter it was conserved as equal to the original construction. Today this has become a significant place in Matara town to which attracts tourists.
Gatabaru Raja MahaViharaya – Matara District
The temple is located on Gatabaru Mountain top about 1500 feet high from the sea leval situated between 45-47 mile posts on Galle- Deniyaya road in the administration limits of Devisional Secretariat area of Kotapola in the District of Matara. A sleeping Buddha statue about 18 cubit is placed in the cave temple and Rajjuru Bandara Devalaya is situated in one side and Vishnu Kataragama Maha Devalaya another side. It is believed that the temple was built by king Walagamba. According to legends the king who faced to invaders left Anuradapura hide in various place in Ruhuna and organized army and it is said that during this time he lived in the place where Gatabaru Rajamaha viharaya is situated.
The temple abandoned for a long time was found by some villagers who went hunting in 1835 and later a monastery was built.
Matara Randupatha (Matara Golden Island)
The Ran Dupatha (Golden Island) which amazes and brings devotional happiness to Buddhist devotees is located in the sea opposite the main bus station in Matara town.
Pareviduwa (Pigeon Island) which stayed as a forest in which tall tree grew until 2003 is surrounded by reefs. Therefore it was called Paraiduwa.
In accordance with a request made by Sri Rohana Sangasabha, Uposathagara Matara Viharaya was built by spending a sum of money exceeding 30 million rupees.
The temple was opened and hand over to the Sri Rohana Maha Sangasabha on 30th March 2004. It was called Pareviduwa in the past and Sri Rohana Uposathagara Maha Viaharaya in 2004. It became Sri Rohana Uposathagara Rajamaha Viharaya in 2014 because former president Mahinda Rajapaksha offered it by a deed.
The Wewurukannala bodi Rajamaha Viharaya is located in Divisional Secretary’s division of Dickwella in Matara District and significant among other historical places of worship in Southern Province. Buddhist devotees are amazed by 100 cubit Buddha statue which is the largest Buddha statue in Asia. According to the front gateway, the temple was constructed in 1895. Historical findings reveals that the temple and the Devale (temple dedicated to a deity) its shrine room and devale was built in Mahanuwara period.
A large number of rare paintings with historical value Can be seen in this temple and a large clock has been fixed on this temple .The historical temple famous among local and foreign visitors is coincident to bring great houner to the Southern Province.
The Seenigama Devalaya is located on a small Island on Colombo – Matara main road (near Hikkaduwa town) on the South West coast.
Sri Lankans accepts that the Seenigama Devalaya is dedicated to the Devol Deviyo or God devol. Srilankans venerate Devoldeviyo. People believe that this god has magic powers.
People frequently visit the Devalaya to make bara and puja (offerings). Rituals processions (perahara), cultural shows are annually held for Devol Deviyo in this place during the month of July. People believe that they can gain some relief by praying to God Devol and grinding chilli on a special grinding stone.